Israel and Egypt Trade Blame Over Closure of Rafah Crossing in Gaza: Latest News - The World News

Israel and Egypt Trade Blame Over Closure of Rafah Crossing in Gaza: Latest News

Smoke rising over buildings in Jabaliya in northern Gaza after a strike on Tuesday.Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Israeli military said Wednesday that its forces were escalating their military operations in parts of northern Gaza where they recently returned, prompting concerns over the country’s longer-term strategy as it tries to crack down on a renewed Hamas insurgency there.

Over 100,000 Palestinians have fled parts of northern Gaza since Israel ordered a mass evacuation on Saturday, according to the United Nations. Israeli forces have repeatedly had to go back to sweep areas in the north during their seven-month war with Hamas, unable to decisively end the presence of armed fighters there.

Israeli forces were homing in on the Jabaliya refugee camp, according to the Israeli military and Palestinian residents. The camp is a built-up urban area largely populated by Palestinians who were displaced during the wars surrounding Israel’s establishment in 1948, as well as their descendants.

Israeli forces were advancing into the neighborhood under heavy airstrikes and shelling, said Raafat Nasr, a resident of downtown Jabaliya. Hamas’s armed wing said on the Telegram social messaging app that its fighters were engaging Israeli troops in Jabaliya refugee camp, firing on soldiers and armored vehicles.

Mr. Nasr, 50, decided to remain in his home with his wife and two children amid “terrifying explosions,” he said. His family is scattered: Two of his children, along with his grandchildren, are trying to flee Rafah, the southernmost city in Gaza, in the face of another Israeli incursion.

“Nowhere in Gaza is safe, and we don’t have anywhere left to go,” said Mr. Nasr, adding that his family was hunkering down and rationing what little food and water they had left.

Displaced Palestinians flee Jabaliya in northern Gaza on Tuesday.Credit…Dawoud Abu Alkas/Reuters

Israeli forces concluded a separate operation in Gaza City’s Zeitoun neighborhood on Wednesday, the military said. At least five soldiers were killed during that incursion, according to military statistics.

The military’s return to areas like Jabaliya and Zeitoun heightened fears that the country was bogged down in a long-term conflict in Gaza without any exit strategy. Former Israeli officials have argued that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s goal of fully toppling Hamas’s rule in Gaza is unrealistic as long as his government fails to present any alternative to the Palestinian armed group to govern the territory.

On Wednesday, Mr. Netanyahu sought to bat away the criticism, saying there was “no substitute for military victory” against Hamas. “Discussions about ‘the day after’ as long as Hamas remains is just empty talk,” he said in a statement.

Anas al-Tayeb, another Jabaliya resident, fled with his family on Saturday morning, hours after receiving the evacuation order. Reached by phone in Gaza City, Mr. al-Tayeb said he could still hear the blasts and feared for his home, which had been mostly undamaged since the start of the war.

The renewed fighting in northern Gaza followed several weeks in which a tense wartime calm had settled into the area, Mr. al-Tayeb said. Food prices had dropped sharply as more aid entered, reducing fears of widespread famine, while airstrikes were less frequent, he recalled.

“After we had a shred of stability — it feels like we’re back to square one, the same terror and anxiety and emotional pressure,” Mr. al-Tayeb said.

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